Jazz Up Your Space

A Vogue-Worthy Apartment Is Still Achievable on a Student Budget

  • Plants can help create a more relaxing and welcoming space. Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

The start of the new school semester comes with the influx of students moving into the city. Whether it be living alone or with roommates, having a cute apartment is always a must.

There’s the obvious hurdle that styling an apartment can be really expensive and downright tedious to do, but following some basic rules all while incorporating some customizable decor makes it possible.

“The biggest problem that comes with living in an apartment is the lack of space,” said 21-year-old Concordia student Vanessa Beaulieu, who currently lives in an apartment. She suggested finding ways to make the most out of a small space by having multipurpose furniture that can double as storage or adapt to welcome guests.

That being said, investing in a futon that can go from a sofa to a bed is a good place to start.

“Things like a kitchen table that can extend based on the amount of people seated or a bedside table that can provide extra storage are good,” added Beaulieu.

The interior design of an apartment or dorm is important since it sets the tone of the space and can determine how the person will feel while living in the environment.

“There’s a lot of different driving factors when you’re designing a space,” said Nada Youssef, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in interior design at Algonquin College.

Youssef noted that decorating an apartment or dorm means taking into consideration that you have limited room; the layout is the main priority.

“Avoid visual clutter,” Youssef said. “If everything is cluttered and all over the place, you’re going to feel suffocated and stressed out. So concealable compartments are useful.”

Feeling comfortable where you live isn’t just about the aesthetic, it’s also about the practicality and the convenience of the users.

“I would recommend warmer colours when it comes to residential, because you don’t want to be living in a sterile space that can almost make you feel dehumanized,” said Youssef.

“Also, mirrors and glossy surfaces help open the space by creating the illusion that the space is bigger when light bounces off of them.”

A floor length mirror can make a room appear larger and more open. Position the mirror so it reflects a window and catches the most light, adding dimension to the room.

Now, although you may be tempted to paint the walls of your new apartment a wild colour, Youssef suggests that the walls be painted white, allowing the colour accents in the room to change the look.

Brightly coloured pillows or a patterned rug can be switched out every once in a while to create a new look, but the white walls will always provide a timeless canvas.

This is a sure way to avoid getting bored with your space.

However, if the idea of colourful walls is still on your mind, removable wallpaper or decals are the way to go. It can stick to your walls and later be removed, which is convenient for those who move often.

“What I’ve learned [studying] environmental psychology is if you can’t personalize a space that you’re living in, then you’re not going to feel comfortable in it,” said Youssef. “You have to add your own touch—whether it’s with colours, pictures or decorations.”

DIY decor can do the trick especially if you find yourself on a smaller budget.

“It’s absolutely undeniable that plants in an indoor space help with people’s mental health, with their moods and with their physical health.”

Megan Mericle

1- Consider changing the hardware on door handles and furniture. Instead of the dull- looking knob on an old dresser, swap it out for a fancy-looking one that you can find at your local hardware store. That extra touch will make your furniture look more expensive than it really is.

2- Chalk paint it. Update your dark wooden furniture pieces with a coat of chalk paint. “The rustic, unfinished look that the paint gives is really in style right now in the interior design world,” said Youssef. Try looking for outdated furniture pieces in thrift stores that can be brought back to life.

3- Display old album covers as art. Frame some record sleeves and hang them up on your wall in a cool composition to showcase your favourite artists and add some edge to your apartment. It will show you made the effort to personalize the space.

4- Wooden crates are your best friend. They can be used to stack up for a cute storage space and are rather affordable at a hardware store. Wooden crates can also provide a base for your mattress if you don’t want to purchase a pricey bed frame. Use them to create a nightstand, a TV stand, or glue them together to create a DIY bookshelf or shelving for small plants.

5- Make your own pillow cases. Pillows can change the look of a room completely. Using the same pillow inserts and switching the pillow covers each season will save you money and storage room. Craft stores have a great selection of fabrics to choose from and the covers can be easily made by following online tutorials. An old woven tablecloth could even be revived into a chic pillow cover.

6- Get a plant. Plants immediately add life to the room, and living in a busy city can mean you don’t get a healthy dose of nature. Outreach and Administrative Coordinator at Concordia Greenhouse, Megan Mericle, recommends succulents to people who are amateurs, or who don’t have a lot of time for plant care. “They are a good place to start because they require little watering and are pretty low maintenance, although they do need a spot with sunlight.”

Having personalized art pieces and plants in your home can have a soothing, positive effect on your mood since they diversify the space.

“It’s absolutely undeniable that plants in an indoor space help with people’s mental health, with their moods and with their physical health,” said Mericle.

She adds that people may feel more encouraged to engage in outdoor activities like taking a walk or participating in a community gardening plot because they love the soothing effect of their plants.

“For inside, you can do so many different things to decorate your room,” said Mericle enthusiastically.

“You can install vertical gardening in various ways by building shelves, reclaiming different materials like an old basketball to use as planters, hanging baskets in your window and growing plants on balconies or railings.”

As a busy student, your home should be your sanctuary. It’s possible to personalize the space to meet your needs and match your personality without breaking the bank.

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